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Proposition 36 Could Change California’s Three-Strikes Law

Tallie Johnson |
November 5, 2012 | 12:58 p.m. PST



(Creative Commons).
(Creative Commons).
California’s three-strikes law could see changes this election. If voters pass Proposition 36, the third felony would not automatically result in a sentence of 25 years to life. Instead, the reform would require the third strike to be a violent felony, similar to laws in most states.

When the law was passed in 1994, the goal was to keep violent and serious repeated offenders off the street. While it has been effective, it has grave consequences.  

“About half the states have three-strike laws,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of University of California, Irvine Law School. “California is the only state with a three-strikes law where the third strike doesn’t have to be a serious or violent felony.”

Currently, there are nearly 9,000 third strikers behind bars in California. 

“It’s amazing how they can look into the future and know the person will be a career criminal,” said Geri Silva, director of Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes. “Just because of something they had done in the past.” 

Proponents say the reform could save the state more than $100 million. Opponents argue that dangerous criminals will be released from prison. 

The Police Protective League supports the current three-strikes law in its current state. They want to keep career criminals behind bars. 

“He is going to offend again. Let’s lock him up and take him out of society,” said John Mumma, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. 

The law was authored by Mike Reynolds. His own daughter was murdered.

“If you're serious about reducing crime, you have to be serious about locking up the people who are committing these crimes,” Reynolds said.

A recent poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California indicated voters are in favor of the reform. Sixty-six percent of voters are saying yes, 20 percent are saying no and 14 percent are still undecided. 



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